Posts Tagged ‘identity’

What’s in a name?

I recently went to court to change my last name, but in the process, decided to legalize my first name.

When my parents immigrated here when I was one, I used my given name, Hyon Bo Pak.  (In Korea, most names are 2 words.  “Bo” is not really a middle name- they are pronounced together.)  It wasn’t until 3rd grade when I moved school districts, where I took on the nickname Angela, and have used it ever since.

Kids are mean.  Because it is hard to pronounce, I used to get made fun of a lot.  (Pronounced like “hyun” and one syllable.)  Popular name teasing (I can’t believe I’m sharing this because it was painful) included “Rambo” and worst of all, “Dumbo”.  So my parents agreed I could use a nickname.

Where did Angela come from, you ask?

You see, my parents watched the hit TV sitcom “Who’s the Boss” (Tony Danza and Alyssa Milano also starred) and loved one of the main character’s name, Angela Bower, and asked me if I liked it too, and apparently, I agreed?

So since 3rd grade, I’ve used Angela for everything, but it wasn’t legal and not on any documents, my license, etc.

Now, to change your first name here, it is a different process than changing your last name.  Through marriage/divorce, you’re able to change your last name, no problem.  For the first name, you must pay $150 and go in front of judge, and take an oath that you are not changing your name for fraudulent reasons, and you are not a sex offender.

I went in front of the judge with about 8 other people, and I wondered if she would ask me why.  I came prepared to tell my Who’s the Boss story.  However, she was not amused and merely made us all take oaths individually and simply spelled out our old names and spelled out our new names and we swore with our right hand raised that it was for legit reasons.

The other people in the courtroom had some general spelling changes, hyphenation changes, etc.  But one rocker chick changed her name from Sarah to Status.  Interesting.

So, now I’m legally Angela Hyon Bo Donohue.  I wanted to keep my given name and told Dan our future child(ren) must have Korean middle names too.  I’m still getting used to seeing 2 new names on my license but it is fun watching people’s reactions when Angela Donohue is called and I show up.   (Yes, I married a white boy.)

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